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Some Coloradoans Want to Break Off and Join Wyoming. They Should at Least Get to Vote On It. | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on February 24, 2021

Ryan McMaken

Last month, a group of activists in Weld County, Colorado, began floating the idea that the county should leave Colorado and be annexed by the State of Wyoming.

Weld County borders Wyoming on the north and runs southward to the northern part of the Denver metro area. It is the ninth-largest county in Colorado by population, containing more than 252,000 residents. Were it to join Wyoming, it would become the largest Wyoming county—by far—in terms of population. With a population of only 580,000, Wyoming’s overall population would increase by 43 percent were the state to annex Weld County.

The Weld County secessionists are now pushing a ballot measure that would instruct Weld County commissioners to explore the annexation with Wyoming. Even with the success of a very weak ballot measure like this, the county would still be a long, long way from an effective secession and annexation. Nonetheless, the governor of Wyoming, Mark Gordon, has already expressed jumped on the bandwagon, telling a Denver-based radio station that he supports the idea.

The response from opponents has been a predictable mixture of mockery and hostility. The Colorado governor, Jared Polis, told Gordon to keep his “hands off Weld County.” One local resident called the effort “ridiculous.” But hostilities between county residents and the state government are sure to remain. One prosecession activist contended the state government “is at war with three major economic drivers for Weld County: small businesses, agriculture, and oil and gas.”

These comments stem from fights between county residents and the state government over stay-at-home orders, water use, and resource extraction.

During the stay-at-home order imposed by the governor last spring, Weld County was among the few counties that refused to enforce state mandates on business closures. Governor Polis responded by threatening to withhold emergency funds from the county. The county quickly brushed off his threat and noted that it had already received its emergency funds and wasn’t planning to request any more. The county has also declared that it will not enforce state orders regarding the wearing of masks indoors.

On top of this, the administration has clashed with county officials and residents over matters of water use and environmental regulation related to oil and gas extraction, which comprises a major part of the county’s economy and employment.

What Is the Moral Argument against Secession?

Legally, a region of a state must jump through many hoops to leave one state and join another. Indeed, the US government and state governments have built up quite a legal edifice to ensure this sort of thing doesn’t happen. The consensus appears to be that such a move requires approval from all states directly affected, plus, approval from Congress. Clearly, unless the US is thrown into political disarray by a major destabilizing event—like a serious depression, a precipitous decline in the regime’s perceived legitimacy, or a sovereign debt crisis—efforts at redrawing state lines are unlikely to succeed.

Nonetheless, until at least one of these major crises occur—which is, of course, virtually guaranteed with a long enough time horizon—it is helpful to ask: What is the moral case, if any, against secession?

Opponents tend to scoff at the idea because they know that in the short term the political and legal obstacles are many.

But because of this, they tend to ignore the problems that come with their position.

Denying Self-Determination

One problem arises from the fact that opposing secession on principle requires the negation of the idea of self-determination. Naturally, counties, regions, and districts do not in themselves have rights to “self-determination.” These rights are only enjoyed by individuals. However, in order for self-determination to exist on a practical level, individuals must be free to assert self-governance through local institutions in opposition to the powers of a central government. Mises was careful to make this distinction in his 1927 book Liberalism:

To call this right of self-determination the “right of self-determination of nations” is to misunderstand it. It is not the right of self-determination of a delimited national unit, but the right of the inhabitants of every territory to decide on the state to which they wish to belong…. [T]he right of self-determination of which we speak is not the right of self-determination of nations, but rather the right of self-determination of the inhabitants of every territory large enough to form an independent administrative unit. 

Mises imagined this could be accomplished through plebiscites at the level of a “single village, a whole district, or a series of adjacent districts.”

In other words, in order to provide opportunities for persons to exercise their rights to political self-determination, it is necessary to allow them to join political jurisdictions that reflect their own needs and personal views.

Those who oppose secession, however, in effect insist that it is necessary that a person move himself and his property—possibly hundreds of miles—to another jurisdiction if he is not pleased with the status quo

But how does this make sense in a region where the overwhelming majority of residents seek to exit a particular state? Should not these people be allowed to live under a state and local government that reflects their values?

What about the Minority That Prefers the Status Quo?

This brings us to a common objection among antisecessionists: What about those people who are against secession and support the status quo?

This is a common strategy employed to disparage secession, such as with the Catalonian secession in Spain or the notion of Californian secession. The Loyalists of American history, of course, opposed the American secession from the British Empire. The argument goes like this: the secessionist regions must never be allowed to leave. This is because the antisecessionist minority populations will be deprived of their right to self-determination. 

Note the inherent contradiction in the antisecessionist position, however. Antisecessionists are apparently only concerned with minority rights when it helps their political position. In our example, if 70 percent of the county seeks secession, that means 30 percent of the Weld County population wishes to remain part of Colorado. Antisecessionists naturally tell us we’re supposed to be deeply concerned about that. But at the same time, the antisecessionists look the other way when it’s a minority group that seeks secession. In other words, if a minority of Coloradoans concentrated in a particular area wish to break off from Colorado, we’ll that’s just tough luck. In this way of thinking, the antisecessionist regional minority always trumps the secessionist statewide minority. 

Secessionists, on the other hand—if they are ideologically consistent—do not have this problem. A consistent secessionist will not object if one portion of the proposed secessionist district votes to remain part of the old jurisdiction. In our Weld County scenario, a secessionist would not object if the county were partitioned to make it easier for antisecessionists to remain part of Colorado.

This doesn’t give everyone exactly what they want, of course. But it goes a long way toward expanding self-determination without forcing residents to relocate to a distant community. That is, under the status quo, a secessionist denied self-determination would be forced to completely relocate outside the community. But if the secessionist district is partitioned, then those who wish to retain the status quo are likely to find themselves needing to relocate only a few miles, or even just down the street.

Democracy Doesn’t Solve These Problems

A third big mistake made by the secessionists is their thinking that “democracy” somehow solves all these problems. The claim goes something like this: “If people in Weld County are unhappy with policies in Colorado, they should contact their elected representatives and run legislation to change things!” This is the old “vote harder” claim—the idea that a group that’s hopelessly outnumbered by another group could possibly prevail in a democratic setting by voting. 

It requires a high degree of naïveté to think that just running legislation, voting, or calling one’s political representatives is enough to get a fair shake through a statewide political process where minority groups are generally powerless. After all, people in Weld County are likely to have very different ideological views, different economic needs, and different cultural backgrounds than people in other parts of the state. Often, differing views and needs will be mutually exclusive or even in direct conflict with each other. If most residents of Weld County favor widespread gun ownership—but a majority in the rest of the state is against it—Weld County residents can’t hope for any political victories in this regard no matter how many bills they run or how many calls they make to the governor’s office. 

Unfortunately, these problems are likely to persist in the short and medium term, because Americans have grown accustomed to regarding state and national boundaries as immovable and very nearly sacrosanct. In practice, however, a state’s borders should change over time to reflect demographic and ideological realities. By denying this, political leaders are effectively saying that the rights of minority populations don’t matter.  Author:

Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and The Austrian, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado and was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

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Pandemics Are Over When the Public Decides They’re Over | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 23, 2020

We’ll ignore the creepy framing of the issue around how citizens have lamentably “grown accustomed to certain freedoms” like being able to leave one’s home. But Fenberg is right to think the public is unlikely to be nearly as compliant this time around.

Whether or not the presence of a disease presents an acceptable risk to “the public” depends on countless individual risk assessments.

Ryan McMaken

In Colorado, reported cases and hospitalizations of covid-19 patients are at higher levels than ever before. And yet politicians are worried that if they issue new stay-at-home orders, the public won’t obey them. For instance the Denver Post last week reported Colorado Democrats admitted the public isn’t listening very closely anymore:

[State senator Steve] Fenberg and many other state leaders are worried…about whether a stay-at-home order would even work this time around. People have grown accustomed to certain freedoms since the spring, and already there are some in the population resistant even to the least oppressive rules, such as wearing masks.

“They don’t want to have restrictive orders that people just entirely ignore,” Fenberg said. “Once you cross that line, that seriously, then it really starts to unravel, when people completely check out from following the orders.”

We’ll ignore the creepy framing of the issue around how citizens have lamentably “grown accustomed to certain freedoms” like being able to leave one’s home. But Fenberg is right to think the public is unlikely to be nearly as compliant this time around.

And what happens if Americans start acting as if there were no pandemic? Then, the pandemic is at a de facto end, even if “experts” insist that it is still a de jure reality.

Medical Pandemics vs. Social Pandemics

In other words, government agencies may issue declarations of when pandemics end, but as noted in the New York Times last May,

pandemics typically have two types of endings: the medical, which occurs when the incidence and death rates plummet, and the social, when the epidemic of fear about the disease wanes.

“When people ask, ‘When will this end?,’ they are asking about the social ending,” said Dr[.] Jeremy Greene, a historian of medicine at Johns Hopkins. In other words, an end can occur not because a disease has been vanquished but because people grow tired of panic mode and learn to live with a disease

This has happened before. During the 1957–58 Asian flu pandemic, for example, the public took little notice of the fact that the flu was especially virulent that year. It is now estimated that more than a hundred thousand died of the flu in the period, which would be the equivalent of 220,000 Americans today. Indeed, Americans continued to die from the Asian flu into the 1960 flu season and beyond. But as far as the public was concerned, there had been no pandemic that required staying home or closing schools.

[Read More: “Why Didn’t the 1958 and 1918 Pandemics Destroy the Economy?” by Ryan McMaken]

Many Americans are apparently already moving in that direction now. According to a new report this month from Gallup, the percentage of Americans saying they are “very likely” to shelter in place has fallen from 67 percent in late March to 49 percent as of November 1. The percentage of respondents saying they are “very unlikely” or “somewhat unlikely” to adhere to stay-at-home orders has doubled from 15 percent to 33 percent. Notably, this trend has occurred in spite of more Americans in the survey also saying they think the virus situation is “getting worse.” In other words, Americans don’t think the disease is about to go away, but less than half say it’s very likely they’ll be sitting at home.

At this point, it’s a fairly safe bet that even as more and more Americans conclude they can’t put their lives on hold indefinitely, government bureaucrats will continue to insist that the pandemic puts everyone at grave risk.

But the public and technocrats often function on different schedules. After all, sitting at home for months or even years may work for childless, white-collar intellectuals and bureaucrats who can easily work from home and need not worry about the social and emotional development of children and others in their care. But many others are likely to view that model of daily life as thoroughly untenable.

Moreover, many currently unemployed Americans—who number in the millions—may conclude that collecting unemployment checks indefinitely is not a satisfactory substitute for making a living the ordinary way.

Making Risk Assessments

All of this will go into calculating risk, and this is why the public’s recognized end to pandemics is often different from the “official” end. The public is made up of countless individuals who make their own risk assessments based on the available facts.

This also is why it’s impossible to declare with finality when “herd immunity” has been reached. As Michel Accad explained last month at

while herd immunity may indeed be a real phenomenon that can take place under certain circumstances when populations are subjected to a contagious disease, it is important to recognize that herd immunity is not a concept that has any practical value for setting public health policy.

For one thing, there is no objective way to establish that herd immunity has been achieved, since a “stable” rate of new infection is a subjective notion. What is a stable or tolerable rate of infection for me may not be so for you.

Whether or not the presence of a disease presents an acceptable risk to “the public” depends on countless individual risk assessments.

With stay-at-home orders, on the other hand, government officials have taken it upon themselves to apply an arbitrary bureaucrat-enforced definition of acceptable risk. These officials insist they must have the power to force the public to retreat to their home until some central political authority has determined that the risk level has dropped to an acceptable level.

How Much Risk Are We Willing to Accept When Driving?

Governments have tried this in other contexts as well.

When it comes to highway safety, for instance, federal and state government agencies spent years trying to convince Americans that “55 saves lives” and that driving at slower speeds would save thousands of American lives per year.

This in itself was not an unreasonable goal, of course. Nowadays, more than thirty-eight thousand people die every year in crashes on US roadways. An additional 4.4 million are injured seriously enough to require medical attention, and auto accidents are the leading cause of death in the US for people aged 1–54.

[Read More: “What the Failed 55-MPH Speed Limit Law Tells Us about COVID Lockdowns” by Ryan McMaken]

A concerted effort to bring down highway deaths could save hundreds of thousands of lives over a single decade. Moreover, the act of driving on the highway—especially at high speeds—heightens the risk not only for one’s self but for other motorists as well. This means if Americans would consent to drive at slow speeds, wear helmets when driving, and refrain from driving for “nonessential” reasons, countless lives could be saved.

Yet, clearly, most Americans have long since concluded that maximizing safety on the highway isn’t worth the trouble, either to increase their own safety or the safety of others. Countless American drivers routinely drive at high speed. Some don’t even wear seat belts. Many people drive to the store or the movies when they could “be safe” by just staying at home. Yet these nonessential motorists continue to put others at risk in this manner.

Few Americans seem to regard this as a serious problem. Most everyone just accepts the risk of highway accidents as another part of life. 

The same thing, of course, has always occurred in the context of disease, and it is likely to occur in the context of covid-19. As time goes on, more and more Americans will simply accept that the risk of catching various diseases as a part of life. This long ago occurred with the flu which still kills tens of thousands of Americans per year.

When this does finally happen with most of the public in regards to covid-19, the pandemic will be de facto over, although many politicians and bureaucrats will no doubt disagree.  Author:

Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and The Austrian, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado and was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

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Residents Band Together To March ‘Antifa Commie B******* Out of the Neighborhood’

Posted by M. C. on August 13, 2020

Those Fort Collins citizens better watch out! Unlike Antifa tactics, defending yourself will get you arrested. Like in the UK.

Fortunately for us, Fort Collins in the US.–Xd4ENUXFlQ47aGmy34GpmHWPI_ObcvYUN7o9QJPZKfxASgIjcX8M


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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.

Fort Collins, Colorado, residents made their stand Saturday as black-clad demonstrators beat a retreat after dueling marches collided.

The pushback began with a flag-bedecked “Back the Blue” rally.

Supporters of the police waved “Thin Blue Line” flags and held signs reading, “Defend the Police,” according to The Rocky Mountain Collegian.

“We have to defend the police and the role that they play in society for keeping law and order and keeping citizens safe,” pro-police demonstrator Sonya Beeson told the outlet.

The pro-police group, however, was confronted by counterprotesters, some of whom wore the masks and black attire associated with antifa radicals.

TRENDING: Scientists Reveal Certain Masks May Be More Dangerous Than Wearing None At All

It’s not clear what started the fracas, but the supporters of the police ended it, as seen in a video of the confrontation posted on Twitter.

The video shows the pro-police residents of Fort Collins purposefully driving the counterprotesters away from the spot they had been holding.

WARNING: The following video contains vulgar language that some viewers may find offensive.

“We are currently marching the antifa commie b——s out of the neighborhood,” a speaker said in the video. “Because nobody wants antifa in the neighborhood. Nobody wants them here. So we’re marching them out.”

As the demonstrators retreated, one of the neighbors called out, “Bye-bye, commie scum. Bye-bye. Go home.”

During a scuffle, the voice called out a warning to the neighbors: “Commie girl with a knife. Commie girl with a knife.”

“You guys came to the wrong city, boys and girls,” the voice called out, later adding, “Aw, commies go home.”

RELATED: Benches Clear After MLB Player Charges Opposition’s Dugout

One voice on Twitter blamed antifa for starting problems.

“Antifa assaulted someone in a wheelchair. That’s what set off the beat down from residents. Police were on the scene to arrest the commies,” Ian Miles Cheong tweeted.

Some said the Fort Collins incident was a lesson for violent demonstrators across the country.

Three people were arrested, according to the Fort Collins police.

All three were charged with disorderly conduct. One individual faced an additional charge of possession of an illegal weapon. Another person was also charged with resisting arrest.

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Don’t Trust the Government with Breathalyzers and other Forensic Evidence | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 18, 2019

In 2017, The Denver Post reported on how staff at the Colorado state Department of Public Health and Environment was actively forging “validation certificates” used to certify breathalyzers for use. In the rush to get the devices on the street, state workers were falsifying paperwork rather than doing due diligence.

This wasn’t the first time that state personnel was shown to be cutting corners on tests of this sort.

Thanks to the proliferation of body cameras and security cameras attached to homes and businesses, police are far more frequently being caught lying.

For example, this month, NYPD cop Michael Bergmann lied about nearly being struck by a suspect’s car. Bergmann was convicted of perjury when a surveillance camera showed otherwise. Earlier this year, Florida cop Zach Wester was caught on his own body-cam of planting drugs on innocent people. He now is awaiting trial. This past summer, thanks to their own body cams, two police officers in Willis, Texas, were convicted of lying about a suspect “evading arrest.”

But at least there are some things we know are reliable when it comes to police investigations: those are the scientific tests conducted by prosecutors and police agencies used in forensic analysis. At least those things are done by reliable and impartial experts, right?


For example, last week, The New York Times released the results of a new study showing that so-called breathalyzer machines, long used as evidence against alleged drunk drivers, are not reliable.

According to The Times:

But those tests [i.e., breathalyzers] — a bedrock of the criminal justice system — are often unreliable, a New York Times investigation found. The devices, found in virtually every police station in the U.S., generate skewed results with alarming frequency, even though they are marketed as precise to the third decimal place.

Judges in Massachusetts and New Jersey have thrown out more than 30,000 breath tests in the past 12 months alone, largely because of human errors and lax governmental oversight. Across the country, thousands of other tests also have been invalidated in recent years.

The machines are sensitive scientific instruments, and in many cases they haven’t been properly calibrated, yielding results that were at times 40% too high. Maintaining machines is up to police departments that sometimes have shoddy standards and lack expertise. In some cities, lab officials have used stale or homebrewed chemical solutions that warped results. In Massachusetts, officers used a machine with rats nesting inside

The Times interviewed more than 100 lawyers, scientists, executives and police officers and reviewed tens of thousands of pages of court records, corporate filings, confidential emails and contracts. Together, they reveal the depth of a nationwide problem that has attracted only sporadic attention.

A county judge in Pennsylvania called it “extremely questionable” whether any of his state’s breath tests could withstand serious scrutiny. In response, local prosecutors stopped using them. In Florida, a panel of judges described their state’s instrument as a “magic black box” with “significant and continued anomalies.”

Devices meant to measure sobriety require the operator use the instrument properly, and that the devices be properly maintained and calibrated. Unfortunately, government agencies have no incentive to ensure that breathalyzers are used properly or that they yield proper results — so long as the results tend to lead to more arrests and more successful prosecutions.

While many cases can likely be chalked up to laziness and incompetence, other cases showed active efforts at fraud. An investigation of the Massachusetts forensic lab, for example, showed “the lab had hidden records of hundreds of failed calibrations.”

It’s not just front-line police officers who are using faulty devices. Other state agencies and staffers are actively attempting to cover up the shortcomings of these “scientific” instruments.

Nor are the misdeeds uncovered in the Times report the first time we’ve heard of similar problems with police agencies corrupting scientific tests.

In 2017, The Denver Post reported on how staff at the Colorado state Department of Public Health and Environment was actively forging “validation certificates” used to certify breathalyzers for use. In the rush to get the devices on the street, state workers were falsifying paperwork rather than doing due diligence.

This wasn’t the first time that state personnel was shown to be cutting corners on tests of this sort.

In 2016, for example, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation admitted “at least 56 of the DUI blood tests it conducted [4 percent of all tests] in the last six months were incorrect.” Of those 56 confirmed cases, all of them erred in favor of the police and of prosecutors. That is, “the initial results in each of those 56 cases showed lower alcohol levels for the drivers than when additional quality assurance retesting occurred.”

These are not roadside tests, mind you. These are blood tests performed in a controlled setting.

Not surprisingly, federal law enforcement organs also engage in similar types of fraud. In 2015, The Washington Post reported that admissions from the FBI and Department of Justice “confirm long-suspected problems with subjective, pattern-based forensic techniques — like hair and bite-mark comparisons — that have contributed to wrongful convictions in more than one-quarter of 329 DNA-exoneration cases since 1989.”

In other words, allegedly scientific and objective analysis is commonly distorted by a variety of law enforcement organizations and other state agencies.

Unfortunately, these lab workers and bureaucrats don’t wear body cams of their own at all times. But it seems they should.  After all, the behavior of these forensic “experts” and lab workers is no different than outright lying about the behavior of defendants at the time an arrest is made. Body cams might catch a crooked cop planting meth on hapless motorists. But the state’s scientific “experts” unfortunately have far more leeway.

Some police officers on the front lines testify that defendants did things they didn’t do. Meanwhile, some state lab workers lie about what’s found in the blood of defendants. Or they’re just too lazy to bother using their own tools properly.

In any case, the result is often ruined lives, and immense court costs for innocent defendants.

This is the other side of the failed “social contract” we live under. The state claims it has a right to extract taxes from residents and taxpayers because the state provides “safety” in return. Yet the courts have established police agencies are not actually required to protect citizens from violence at all.

As if that weren’t bad enough, taxpayers also pay state analysts and lab workers — some of them quite handsomely — to help prosecute citizens based on faulty forensic evidence.

This social contract increasingly looks like it’s a pretty bad deal for many of us, after all.

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(Drug) War Is Nothing But A Heart-breaker, Colorado and California(!) Offer Hope

Posted by M. C. on December 2, 2014

One hundred years ago this month the Harrison Narcotics Act was passed banning cocaine and opiates. That is before alcohol prohibition. You would have thought by now we would have learned. It only took from 1920 to 1933 to figure out alcohol prohibition wasn’t working and was too deadly.

The drug war has put hundreds of thousand behind bars for victimless crime and has generated a fair share of victims also.

Mexico, corrupt enough without our help, is on the verge of complete collapse due to drug cartels. Bribing police, employing police, killing rival gang members, killing innocent civilians and of late kidnapping students and executing them for reasons known only to the corrupt government employed killers. Read the rest of this entry »

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